by Danladi Bako, PhD
One balmy evening last week I ensconced on the sofa in my residence and watched Seun Okinbaloye on Channels television reveal the outcome of election projection results conducted by ANAP Foundation and NOI supported by Channels television. For those who know the Lagos business circuit and the personalities behind the two outfits would not be surprised by the collaboration , which I must say is also an attempt at deepening our democratic culture through the templates of audience measurements , feedback, and research. The challenge however with embarking on these types of opinion polls is that it is primarily data-based, methodology-driven, and such analysis contextualized with the framework of the instruments being used to collect and interpret data. This recent poll did not reflect the diversity in the demographics of age, gender, occupation, etc of the respondents. Any student of research or precision journalism knows the role of research methodology, sample population, sample size, and probability or non-probability sampling. ANAP/NOI polls did not define the sampling of 92 million registered voters spread across the country and how they were targeted. This population of registered voters might provide for 1000 respondents for example. Those 1000 registered voters must capture the voters using a phone to respond as well as those with the face-to-face application of questionnaires. Within this population, ANAP needed to define how many respondents are from each state since it is a national survey intended to project the popularity of presidential candidates. The sampling technique of how the choices of respondents were made must reflect not only display a national spread but also demographic and socio-economic parameters.
Considering that internet penetration is only about 49 percent within Nigeria and essentially they are urban based covering about 30 percent of Nigerians who live within the cities, it totally blacks out the opinions and choices of no less than 70 percent of the rural voters. Statistics show that Nigeria’s predominant internet users are the youth aged between 16 – 40 years. Furthermore, in this case, some of the respondents on our social media platforms are in far-flung countries like Vietnam, Belarus and Papua New Guinea. Permit me to bring my wide travelling experience and its geographic implications to bear on this issue. Within the Asian sub-continent, the majority of the Nigerian diaspora community is from the Southeast and South-south. Europe and American continents hold out more Southwest diaspora folks. Likewise, if you want to be fair to northern candidates in any kind of survey you go to the Arabian Peninsula covering Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Dubai, etc.
Any sampling technique that is short of these variables will produce a misinformed and fallacious poll result. I probably agree that there exist huge risks in the human face-to-face application of survey instruments in crises – prone, bandit infested areas, but then it is even more dangerous to create a farcical facade of hope for otherwise not-so-popular candidates and their cohorts by raising their hopes and adrenaline levels to the point that when eventual election results are announced late February 2023, their grief-stricken followers now embark on an orgy of violence over results they had been fooled will go their way.
This is the credibility and viability challenge that the ANAP NOI polls face.
Much as we need to engender the utilisation of surveys and polls for election polls forecast, the devil is in the details of such inadequacies and gross misapplication of methodology as well as the eventual outcomes.
The hiatus of undecided voters as indicated in the results of the exercise also points to the need for not only more rigorous voter education but a retooling of the process and a total discountenance of the flawed results declaring the Labour party candidate Peter Obi as the preferred choice of Nigerians. The premise is faulty, the assumptions are inchoate and therefore the supposed results are misleading and fallacious.
Danladi Bako is a broadcaster, director, producer, administrator, and scholar.